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Google Punishing Chrome Results For 60 Days 173

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sounds-about-right dept.
djl4570 writes "'Google is pushing its own Chrome browser down in search rankings for 60 days following reports that the company was involved in an ad campaign that paid for links to bolster search traffic. ... According to Sullivan, it appears that Google contracted its Web ads out to a firm called Essence Digital, which in turn asked a company called Unruly Media to implement the campaign.' I see this as an astute move on Google's part. Rather than circle the wagons they say 'oops' and correct the problem. Google understands that such link pimping is a cancer that undermines the integrity of their search engine. That's why it isn't allowed and now Google is saying we don't support a double standard either."
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Google Punishing Chrome Results For 60 Days

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  • Wha? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pinkj (521155) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:03PM (#38585526)
    Feeling...positive...feelings...towards...billion dollar...corporation...must search for...negative...feelings...for another...corporation...!
    • Re:Wha? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:00PM (#38586198)

      Why would you have positive feelings over this? Google was caught doing the same SEO tactics they punished JC Penney for [cnn.com]. JC Penney even gave the exact same excuse, which was that they had no idea their external SEO company was doing such evil things. But this is worse, because Google is supposed to be the moral authority about this stuff since they are in a monopoly position when it comes to web search.

      They had to do this after the huge amount of negative press yesterday, and they only did it after that press. But even worse, it doesn't even matter because the search term still returns Chrome as the top result via the sponsored links. How convenient for Google that it can pay itself and get the top result regardless of the neutral algorithmic results beneath, and therefore, regardless of whatever punishment it doles out to itself to make Google fans feel better about being Google fans.

      No, this is nothing to feel positive about at all. If Google does the same things it punishes others for, it's no better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cl0s (1322587)

        Google loses money by placing it's ads as that could have been a paying customers ad in that position that they would have actually had outside money coming in paying for. I'm sure the same happened with JC Penny, their organic search results might have been penalized for a period of time but they were free to advertise in the paid search results.

        They took the steps to correct the issue, it was only 1 day after it was even discovered. I don't see how they could of done something about it before they knew an

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        what if google also gives itself the same punishment as it gave others...? not saying that makes it right...nor is it a positive in itself...but it is interesting to see.

  • Good for Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PickyH3D (680158) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:03PM (#38585532)

    The article that I had read yesterday suggested that they were going to wash their hands of it and blame the bloggers.

    I am happy to see the fair business practice here. I do not always like what you're up to Google, but sometimes, like with mostly pulling out of China, and now this, I like what I see.

    • Re:Good for Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:07PM (#38585578) Homepage

      The article that I had read yesterday suggested that they were going to wash their hands of it and blame the bloggers.

      Sorry, but with a name like "Unruly Media," wasn't someone keeping an eye on them?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DCTech (2545590)
        It's how corporate world works. You establish new entities to do the dirty work for the "clean" parent company. For example, see this patent laundering done by Apple [slashdot.org].
      • by c (8461)

        > Sorry, but with a name like "Unruly Media," wasn't someone keeping an eye on them?

        Because they're an advertising company. You have to automatically assume they're lying about everything. If they'd been called "Proper Media" there'd be a Google spy-mobile permanently parked outside the office.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Happy? I don't think we should be praising Google for doing what they should be doing.
      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Happy?

        I don't think we should be praising Google for doing what they should be doing.

        Given how many companies do it, I'd say they're out of the pack. Shouldn't we praise companies that are out of the pack, and on the positive side of it?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Of course we should, but some people are myopic morons that have an irrational hatred of organization.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          We should thank companies for doing what they should be doing, but we should only praise companies when they go above and beyond what we should consider a minimum performance.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      And of course the article you read yesterday was 100% accurate and you fell for the deception that was supposed to make you think it wasn't.

    • That's accurate. Google claims that Essence Digital and Unruly Media misinterpreted what Google wanted, and should have inserted Chrome advertising alongside content; not being content in itself, sponsored or otherwise.

      An initial report: Google’s Jaw-Dropping Sponsored Post Campaign For Chrome [searchengineland.com]
      Follow-up: Google: Yes, Sponsored Post Campaign Was Ours But Not What We Signed-Up For [searchengineland.com]

  • Marketing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:03PM (#38585536) Homepage Journal

    ...and they're getting so much press in the news for doing so that the net result is much more promotion than Chrome would have seen otherwise. GENIUS!

    • Re:Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:18PM (#38585676)

      Just hang on for a moment. What you're saying is that if Google does something bad they should take the blame but if they try to fix what they did wrong they don't get any credit?

      • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:46PM (#38586032) Homepage Journal

        no, it's just funny that we are all so cynical and desensitized to large (or even medium) sized companies burying crap like this; then when called out, shifting the blame; that we praise the few companies that do the right thing because it is so rare.

        Where I work, we had an incident. There was about a week of thrash internally about how to handle it. In the end we handled it the right way for the consumers (and by extension the right way for the shareholders in the long view, though certainly not in the short view). I am proud of my company, but can not post more of it here :(

        • Except that they did shift the blame and their so-called punishment of themselves is laughable. It's funny though how the Google cultists eat this up. Secondly if this advertising wasn't what they wanted why wasn't it stopped long before it became public that they had made this deal?

    • Re:Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fallen1 (230220) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:19PM (#38585684) Homepage

      Isn't it amazing that by actually doing THE RIGHT THING and accepting responsibility, they gain more press than if they had just said "The bloggers did it." and washed their hands of the situation.

      Maybe they, and other companies, can actually learn from this? You know, a) try not to fuck up in the first place and b) when you do, take responsibility and FIX IT.

      Uncommon outbreak of good sense, perhaps?

    • by jduhls (1666325)
      I always wondered if Verizon created/destroyed it's $2 "fee processing fee" for the same small reason: to create at least one positive feeling for a giant faceless person...oops...corporation.
    • This is far from purely marketing. The quality of the search results is what make Google alive and a winner in the first place. Google has little other choice but doing so, even if it means a short-term dip for Chrome in their own search results.

      And a little good PR after it doesn't hurt, anyway. I think Google deserves it.

  • by satuon (1822492) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:07PM (#38585576)

    I wouldn't have expected this level of integrity from any other company. There's been a lot of opinions floating around that Google aren't 'good guys' any more than others, but cases like this show that they really are different.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh whatever. This isn't about integrity, this is about putting your hand in the cookie jar and getting caught... now, it's all about damage control, and they chose the smartest way of controlling said damage.

      Yes, Google is different than most other companies out there. Not because they're good guys or have any sort of high moral compass ... but because they're *smart*.

      • by Spad (470073)

        Weirdly, I think I'd take Smart Evil over the usual Dumb Evil we have to put up with, at least they probably won't cause as much collateral damage whilst blindly fumbling around trying to rule the world.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Did you even fucking read the story? Google hired a service to promote a video of theirs. That service went and had some bloggers promote the video. ONE of the bloggers didn't abide by the rules and therefore was violating a policy.

        So not only was it just one accidental occurrence, but Google was two steps removed from it. Now they're manning up and accepting responsibility even though they by no means have to - they could very easily just say "oh, the marketing company fucked up".

    • by Wovel (964431)

      Integrity? They got caught and are trying to cover their asses. This is actually the opposite of integrity. Integrity would be not doing it in the first place.

      • by oakgrove (845019)
        Dude, Google didn't actually do anything. Read the article. Please.
        • Dude, Google didn't actually do anything. Read the article. Please.

          Google contracted for certain advertising work to be done.
          The contractor contracted with an advertising agency to do the actual work.
          The ad agency drew up a specific plan (in the form of reports of what was to be done, where, when, how, etc.).
          The contractor reviewd the reports, approved, and forwarded them to Google, adding their own reports on the ad agency itself.
          Google reviewed the reports and sent an approval to the contractor.
          The contractor then sent their approval to the ad agency.
          The work was done an

    • You would have a point if Google gave something up, but they still display a massive ad for Chrome on their start page (roughly the same size as the Google logo) and other properties, and a sponsored ad for 'browser', and top results for 'chrome' and 'browser' still have Chrome listed through wikipedia and other second hand sources.

      How many people do you think manage to get past the huge logo-sized ad, the banner ads, and the 2nd hand sites without reading about Chrome or being able to download it? If you

  • I just pay for some banner and report that to Google ?
  • by slthytove (771782) <james...m...allen@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:08PM (#38585592) Homepage

    The article mentioned the results for Bing and Google, so I decided to do a little investigation. If you search for "browser" on Bing, the top 10 results are quite similar, with one notable absence - no Firefox or Mozilla pages appear. Does this seem fishy to anyone else?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      My #2 result on Google is Firefox, and the #1 is actually a news link so I'm not sure that even counts.

      Bing gives me: 1. Wikipedia, 2. Opera, 3. Wikipedia again, 4. Safari, 5. CNet, 6. IE, 7. AOL, 8.Opera again, 9. Whatbrowser, 10. Online dictionary

      So no Chrome, no Firefox, but also not a list I could really find a fault with (except for useless duplicates and general Bing uselessness). Firefox is mentioned in the #1 and #3 links.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:21PM (#38585706)

      I gave this a try too, results as follows in order of first page

      Bing: Generic, Opera, Generic, Safari, Generic, IE, Netscape, Opera, Generic, Generic
      Google: Firefox, Generic, Opera, Safari, Generic, Generic, IE, Avant, Generic, Generic
      Yahoo: Generic, Opera, Generic, Safari, Generic, IE, Netscape, Opera, Generic, Generic
      Dogpile: Generic, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Generic, Generic, IE, Generic, MSN Explorer (IE?), Netscape

      What surprised me:
      1) Opera shows up so often, although this may be because of their huge mobile marketshare
      2) IE doesn't show up more often. Maybe because it's on Windows PCs by default so less people search for it to download it?
      3) Dogpile still exists. I don't think I've used it in the past decade until now.
      4) Bing and Yahoo gave the same exact search results.
      5) The only time Chrome showed up was on generic websites (IE: Wikipedia entries or CNet downloads) that included all of the major browsers

      • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:33PM (#38585842)

        4) Bing and Yahoo gave the same exact search results.

        And they have since 2009. Yahoo uses Bing [techreport.com] for its search result.

      • Aren't Bing and Yahoo running on the same engine?

      • by TeXMaster (593524)

        4) Bing and Yahoo gave the same exact search results.

        Yeah, they have been the same search engine since something like mid-2010. Did you miss the news?

      • 3) Dogpile still exists. I don't think I've used it in the past decade until now.

        And is the only one with Netscape in the top ten results ;-)

        • oops strike that. My visual_grep function needs some bug-hunting again. XD

          • by omnichad (1198475)

            No, it would still be correct, since Netscape is only on dogpile due to it being an aggregate search engine and including Bing results.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        1) Opera shows up so often, although this may be because of their huge mobile marketshare

        The paranoid view would be that most users won't go for Opera, so if they should happen upon it they are more likely to reject alternative browsers and wind up an Aieee! user.

        4) Bing and Yahoo gave the same exact search results.

        One would expect so [mashable.com].

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        Think about why and how people link to browsers. The thing about MSIE is that everyone who is able to use it, already has it preloaded. You'd expect there to be few links to it. Opera is almost the opposite; almost nobody gets Opera without downloading it from a web page. Firefox is somewhere in between; some people get it by going to a page and downloading it, and some people have it preloaded with their distro or get it through a package manager.

        Thus, Opera will have lots of links to it, because follo

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      Searching bing for "web browser" and the first listing is Opera then Safari.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I see what you did there. Very clever, tricking me into visiting Bing.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:10PM (#38585608)

    Like cheering a guy on when he stops beating his wife.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think a better analogy would be cheering on a bank for publicly announcing and refunding all clients who were victims of fraud performed by an employee.

    • Consciousness raising tends to become cheerleading behind a noble cause such as education in abolition of " double standards"

  • I am not sure if this is a good marketing/political move on Google part. They demonstrate to the whole world how easy it is for them to "alter" search results. So today they choose to alter it one way, but what prevents Google to do it other way tomorrow?
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      without doing rtfa, they probably hired some "SEO experts" for marketing.

      think about how stupid that sounds? because the seo expoerts excell in manipulating search results. while g could have just manipulated them on their end to begin with and are now manipulating them down(doesn't matter, they'll still push it through their services as usual anyhow).

      more than altering the results I despise altering what I typed to the search engine so i'll get shown double the ads. doesn't matter, can't link on the google

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        as a "SEO" expert (ie Matt Cuts knows my name) working for a big company no way would I our my colleagues ever suggest this - the risk is immense and if any one in our group of companies did this I would be lobbying the MD to have the marketing people involved fired.

        Matt C should be at the next Google board meeting demanding someones head for this.
        • as a "SEO" expert (ie Matt Cuts knows my name) working for a big company no way would I our my colleagues ever suggest this - the risk is immense and if any one in our group of companies did this I would be lobbying the MD to have the marketing people involved fired.

          Matt C should be at the next Google board meeting demanding someones head for this.

          As an "SEO" expert, the world hates you because you are advertising scum and you do a job that any monkey could do if they just read the Google FAQ and properly set titles and meta tags.

          Just FYI.

          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            Actually for toy sites it might be but doing it right for a multi million page site built over the course of several years and using multiple CMS its actually bloody hard work!

            And how brave of you to hide behind a pseudonym - I see my job as protecting all the stake holders IE including the the poor bastards who will be laid off if the company messes up a transition on a website.

            BTW last year I found a single mistake that had cost one small part of the company getting on £1/2 Million in less th
    • I believe this is a wise move for Google. The general user won't care this much anyway. Those who are likely to manipulate search results, esp. in the way not approved by Google, will look at this as a powerful warning and are discouraged.

  • Sounds great. Looking at it raises a couple of questions though: 1) When are they going implement this? Googling 'Chrome' from machines in Switzerland, Miami and Chicago still gives the 'Download and install Google Chrome' link in the prime position. 2) Wouldn't any other company have been banned and have to resubmit?
    • I don't think they planned on automatically shoving Chrome on page 3 of any search so much as lowering it's weight in their search method. If you Google "Chrome" you will still get the web browser because even with a lower weight, it still vastly outweighs most other results for "chrome". However, if you search for something like "web browser" then the effect is much more apparent.

      • Wow. So they went from top position to (er...) top position. They're really stamping their authority on this one.

        My point is: shouldn't the whole site (google.com) be completely removed from the search indexes?

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:26PM (#38585760)

    Google has 20,000 employees and their primary business is advertising -- 98% of their revenue, many billions of dollars every year, comes from advertising. So why would Google need to hire another company to advertise their Chrome browser? And why did *THAT* company need to hire *ANOTHER* company?

    When you want to do something dodgy, while pretending to "do no evil", what better way than to hire someone else to do your dirty work for you. And when they get busted, you can just blame them and say "Hey, we didn't know anything about it".

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:29PM (#38585806)

      Their revenue comes from displaying advertisements... I don't think that's the same as marketing or creating advertisements.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daniel142005 (906427)

        Exactly. It's actually a well known fact that Google sucks at marketing their own stuff. A perfect example is their Nexus One phone.

        The leader of marketing (and brainwashing) is (IMHO) Apple, because no matter what it is, they can spin it to get people to buy it. Apple could probably find a way to successfully market dog shit if they wanted to.

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          So what you're suggesting is that Apple should create a marketing firm, and Google should contract them? Yeah, they'll get right on that.

    • Google has 20,000 employees and their primary business is advertising -- 98% of their revenue, many billions of dollars every year, comes from advertising. So why would Google need to hire another company to advertise their Chrome browser?

      Google's primary business is delivering ads to users via the internet on behalf of other firms which create and manage advertising campaigns.

      What Google paid another company to do was to create and manage an advertising campaign.

      Both of these activities might be described

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Yup. The guy who turns out magnet wire for an MRI and the nurse who sticks IVs into your arm are arguably both in the healthcare industry, but clearly they have somewhat different skillsets.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      There is that. There is also the fact that if they put up advertisements for their own browser, they'd be subject to anti-trust violations, in fact the same ones that Microsoft were convicted of violating when they bundled IE with Windows.

      Letting a 3rd party handle it is not an anti-trust violation, because then it'd be subject to existing agreements Google had with the 3rd party. As well, the 3rd party is free to market Chrome however it desires (not specifically limited to Google search results or product

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:30PM (#38585814)

    Google has always maintained that their search results are totally unbiased and not influenced by ad sponsors, the companies other businesses, and anybody trying to spam the system. This seems like an internal dispute between the search team and the Chrome team...

  • by Wovel (964431) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:49PM (#38586076) Homepage

    We got caught. Google assumed they were the only ones in a position to recognize their deception. They were wrong.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except that had nothing to gain. It make no sense what so ever for Google to do this.

    • by pclminion (145572)

      Bullshit. Google is doing FAR MORE than necessary. Google owns the damn search engine, remember? If they want to give higher rankings to their own stuff, they can just MAKE IT HAPPEN. No need to hire a marketing firm and spam the web with links. Get it?

      Link spamming is something anyone can do. Google can create an advantage for themselves by doing it, but so can you. There is no uneven playing field here. In fact, I don't think Google is morally obligated to do anything at all -- any company could do the sa

  • will they go back to manipulating results after this two month face saving period? Google-san - what say ye?
    • by tekrat (242117)

      And here I was, thinking that "Japanese Iambic pentameter" was a dead language....

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